Google says Chrome Frame is no longer necessary now that most people are using modern browsers.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

June 13, 2013

2 Min Read

Google I/O: 10 Key Developments

Google I/O: 10 Key Developments

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Chrome Frame, Google's window into the modern Web for users of legacy Windows systems, will be retired in January, 2014, its mission ostensibly accomplished.

Introduced in 2009 as a developer preview and launched officially in September, 2010, Chrome Frame is a free plugin for Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8 and 9 on Windows 7, Vista or XP SP2+. It provides a way for users of these older versions of IE to view Web pages coded with modern HTML5 elements like the canvas tag, as long as the website includes the appropriate meta tag.

Chrome Frame has helped Google's ongoing effort to win the hearts and minds of enterprise Internet users who, for one reason or another, haven't been able to switch to Chrome or Firefox. It has also made Microsoft look bad, as if the company can't adapt to modern Web technology.

[ Google is constantly killing off services and products while adding others. Read Google Buys Waze. ]

Now that Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 is much more capable and Google Chrome dominates global browser usage, Google no longer sees a need to maintain the technology.

Google Chrome engineer Robert Shield argued that Chrome Frame's work is largely done. "Today, most people are using modern browsers that support the majority of the latest Web technologies," he said in a blog post. "Better yet, the usage of legacy browsers is declining significantly and newer browsers stay up to date automatically, which means the leading edge has become mainstream."

Nonetheless, the old ways die hard among enterprise organizations. In Google+ comment, IT consultant Austin Fatheree castigated Google for its plan to drop Chrome Frame. "You just undid YEARS of my work," he wrote, noting that some people and some companies, particularly government organizations will not or cannot upgrade. "Chrome Frame was the only way to roll out new [technology]."

Another Web developer, E.M. Marston, observed in a Google+ comment that in Canada, on her websites, one in four visitors still uses Internet Explorer 8 or earlier and that these people generally indicate that they'd upgrade if they could, but cannot because they're with a hospital, university or company that doesn't provide that option.

As an alternative to Chrome Frame, Shield suggests that IT managers employ Chrome for Business in conjunction with Legacy Browser Support, a Chrome extension designed to launch an installed legacy version of IE when necessary. Google wants Chrome to be a fully realized Web client rather than a parasite awakened periodically when an ancient version of Internet Explorer comes across HTML5 code.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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